Bang for your buck: investing in malaria prevention pays off

A new report titled ‘Saving Lives with Malaria Control: Counting Down to the Millennium Development Goals’ estimates that investment in malaria prevention has saved the lives of over 700,000 children in 34 African countries since 2001. Malaria is the leading cause of death among children in Africa and malaria control is critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) reducing child mortality.

The report hails the success of malaria interventions over the past decade and finds that if current investment in malaria control is scaled up, three million additional lives could be saved by 2015. On the other hand, sitting back now and decreasing funding could result in nearly half a million child deaths from malaria. The report furthermore finds that investment in malaria prevention has shown excellent returns – for every US $1,000 spent, 380 children are protected from malaria.

This report comes at a critical time as nations prepare to meet in New York later this month to discuss progress toward the MDGs. The MDGs are eight international development goals that were adopted by 189 countries during the UN Millennium Summit in 2000. The goals all have a target date by which they are to be achieved, which in most cases is 2015. Progress toward achieving the MDGs is seriously behind schedule, however, and reaching these goals requires more action. This month’s MDG Summit in New York will provide an opportunity for leaders to step up and commit the resources needed to get the MDGs back on track.

“This report demonstrates the critical importance of malaria control efforts to reaching the health-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015” states Dr Robert Newman, director of the Global Malaria Programme at WHO. “Without continued investment in malaria, reaching the MDG for child survival is unlikely to be reached in Africa.”

The report clearly demonstrates that investment in malaria prevention is effective and produces results. These sorts of successes are a perfect example of why performance-based strategies should be further invested in. As a performance-based entity, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria – which currently provides around three-quarters the international funding for malaria programmes in the developing world – is exactly the type of development institution that successfully channels donor funds into evidence-based solutions. In addition to the MDG Summit, world leaders have another upcoming opportunity to commit the political will and the resources to achieving the MDGS – namely the Global Fund replenishment meeting in early October. Investment in malaria control works, and now is the time to commit further funds to the Global Fund to get the most bang for our buck.

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